This year was the 8th in a row I’m attending Essen in the role of Father (actually my main role/position all along the year. I’m a father as first job, a car driver as second job – bringing kids here and there – and finally, in the spare time, I’m doing all the rest) and I would like to give other fathers some hints/advices. I’m been there 5 years with Caterina, 2 years with both the kids and this year alone with Francesco.
First of all attending something like Essen Spiel (or Play – The Games Festival or any other big gaming event you are thinking about) is great (of course it would looks like I’m a bit masochist persevering in the same habit for 8 year if it was not good) but it is really really strenuous. You have to forget things like Geekbuzz, Fairplay … you have to reconsider the meaning of the world “two-minutes” (it could be something between few seconds or close to an hour) and you must be ready to jump from an hardcore heavy resource management game to a kids and silly one and back again … all the time … three days in a row!
Still time to buy something but not so much as in the past!
(Actually I have to said that I bought no less than 25 games in the two weeks before Essen and I’m going to buy something close to 20-25 games from Italian publisher in few days at Lucca Comincs & Games)
I was in Essen for the first time almost 20 years ago, when it was occupying just two small halls and an half, when almost no one of the games at the fair was going to be published in Italy (actually just 2-3 Italian companies were attending the Messe), most of them rarely having English editions. In these days you were able to play most of the really good titles and there was the urgency to buy as most as possible of the good ones. Now the titles are 50 times more and almost all the good ones are going to have an Italian edition. So attending Essen, for me, is much more about looking small booth, having good time, meeting friends and chasing my kids all around!
Now some chronicle before the end of the story and the moral.
The second day was usually the hardest one. Full of playfulness we spent the evening playing (actually also part of the night) and so waking up early was really difficult.
We rush to the fair for the first game, usually the longest one. We played Manitoba, a really nice surprise from two Italian Designers. At the table also all Italian People.
(they told us that the horses in the box could be used also as lions if you looks the horse’s snout as lion’s leg)
After that we spent some time traveling and Looking around. After lunch we make a Long session at Ares booth with Battlestar Galactica: starships battles, the new implementation from Andrea Angiolino of the nice Wings of War System. We really enjoyed it: good looking miniatures and some really nice new mechanic like the inertia system.
The last game played was VektoRace by Spartaco Albertarelli and Davide Ghelfi: really good idea well implemented. Funny to play
Only 3 games ? Actually in the middle we spent a ridiculous amount of time looking miniatures, walking around or laughing in front of the great Exploding-Kitten machine (is nice to have a kids with you as an excuse for laughing and crying in front of a furry machine!)
Actually attending Essen in the role of Father you will discover that most of the time will be spent talking, laughing, discussing, exploring, arguing with your kids about many things and, above all, sharing the same passion for games … and that’s really the great thing!
The real meaning of the world “two-minutes”
Waiting in front of a game you would like to try but your kids don’t: “Francesco, we wait for two-minutes and we will ready to play” … after no more than 30 secs you have to run away to grab your kid no less than 100 meters away … and the opportunity is lost! Sometimes two-minutes are less than 30 secs.
In front of the Exploding-kitten machine: “Francesco, two-minutes and we have to go …”. Francesco “Ok, pa”… after 15 minutes “We have to go” … 20 minutes “We have to go ” … 30 minutes “we have to go, now!”. Sometimes two-minutes are more than 30 minutes
Saturday was our last day in the Messe so we know we have to play a lot and play hard. We start at Stronghold booth with Futuropia, a clever release from Friedeman Friese. A simple, no-luck driven, resource management game with a nice settings.
We was 3 and Francesco beat all of us … he, like his sister, is really good in getting into a resource management game straight from the first session … something let me dream about a nice old age on the shoulders of my kids (I think of me like one of the resources they have to properly manage).
I’m a real Neuroshima Hex fan and I was really curious about Monolith Arena, the new implementation in a fantasy setting. The game seems great, preserving all the good things from Neuroshima Hex with some new ideas.
(Image from gioconomicon.net website)
We make a battle and Francesco (Elves) won.
After that we moved in the Ice Cool booth to try Pyramid of Pengqueen, a nice kids game that take inspiration from the old Ravenbsurger’s Labyrinth. We make 3 games in a row!
And now some nice concluding pictures:
My games bag: a really nice gadget from Red Glove
Our session of Final Act: the first time we played an Israelian game.
Francesco’s tower: still able to build something bigger than him … a good premise for the future! (Few minutes before we spent almost 10 minutes looking the differences between the World of Flames Collector Edition map and the map of the 5th edition we are actually playing!)
Up and down from the escalator: the usual Francesco’s last game in Essen
So, in the end, here the hints:
- if you have kids you have to, at least one time, attend Essen Spiel or another event (if you are not far from Italy/Modena I suggest Play – The Games Festival). In the worst situation you will learn something you are not fitted to!
if you attend Essen with kids you have to be ready to consider time and space in a totally different way. Einstein relativity rules!
don’t be fussy: you will try all sort of games and, sometimes, you will discover something good your are not used to. Sometimes not!
give your kids your phone number: I never lost them in the Messe (only because I’m lucky and they have a really good orientation) … they are little and agile and are moving in the crowd much more quickly than you
you have to know that the most valuable thing is to spend with them nice time, sharing a great experience, and not to play at all cost the games you are waiting for from years! Otherwise you will be frustrated.
good play and see you next year
Andrea and Francesco